MIT Sees Zombies And MOOCs In Education's Future - InformationWeek

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MIT Sees Zombies And MOOCs In Education's Future

MIT's Sloan School of Management is one of several universities using AvayaLive Engage to meld real and virtual classrooms.

To really engage people in a collaborative learning environment, an interface like Avaya's may be needed.

"The MOOC idea, and I respect Khan Academy and EdX and Coursera and Udacity, they're great for conveying knowledge, but when it comes to high-engagement, high-trust kinds of programs, they're left wanting," said Paul McDonagh-Smith, Avaya's learning practice leader.

He said there were not currently discussions between Avaya and existing massive open online courses (MOOCs), or online learning environment producers like Blackboard, about adopting its interface.

"I see a fantastic opportunity to create a whole new generation of products and services for this technology," he said. He thinks that an interface like his will be truly disruptive for higher education, in a way that current MOOCs are not.

That may be true, said Michael B. Horn, co-founder and executive director of the Clayton Christensen Institute. Horn, who cautioned that he has not seen the Avaya platform in action, called it "intriguing."

The Christensen Institute just published a report on hybrid online and classroom learning in K-12 schools. The report argued that currently the hybrid model, also called blended learning, is largely a "sustaining innovation," Christensen's notation for an innovation that improves an existing field, but does not disrupt it.

Horn said some school districts, such as Summit Public Schools or the Touchstone schools are using online technologies in disruptive fashion. But schools and campuses aren't going away anytime soon.

"We're still going to see students learning in schools," Horn said.

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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6/3/2013 | 10:42:08 PM
re: MIT Sees Zombies And MOOCs In Education's Future
I have to say I'm profoundly skeptical about 3D avatars for anything other than online gaming.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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6/3/2013 | 6:19:52 PM
re: MIT Sees Zombies And MOOCs In Education's Future
Interesting. I always thought the tech had the best potential for teaching something like architecture, where you might be touring the virtual representation of a building that doesn't exist yet, or maybe engineering representations of an aircraft or a rocket.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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6/3/2013 | 4:48:14 PM
re: MIT Sees Zombies And MOOCs In Education's Future
The Second Life phenomenon has faded dramatically, so I don't get why imitating that style of interaction would make sense for educators trying to innovate. There were all sorts of experiments with teaching on Second Life islands a few years ago, but now that's an old enthusiasm people laugh at.
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